No. 2 Riverside Outlasts No. 3 Ventura in Shootout to Advance to SoCal Championships

Photo by Bobby R. Hester
Photo by Bobby R. Hester

It is said by some that it is a tall task to defeat any team twice in one season. The Riverside City College football team defeated the Ventura College Pirates, 42-34, in late September and looked to hold a perfect record against them in a rematch Saturday night under the lights of Wheelock Stadium for the first round of the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) SoCal Regional playoffs. The second-seeded Tigers and third-seeded Pirates exchanged scores tirelessly in the opening three quarters. However, it was the Tigers who packed a heavier punch in the final round as they scored 21 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 49-33 victory.

The Tigers averaged 8.1 yards-per-play leading to 537 yards of total offense. They dominated the ground game with over two bills of rushing yards on approximately the same amount of carries.

It was all Ventura early on as strong defense led to offense. After two interceptions by the Ventura defense, the Pirates worked their way to a six-point lead after a set of field goals with under three minutes remaining in the opening frame.

The Tigers stayed poised and charged down the field on the following possession off of a five plays, 77-yard drive. The drive was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Vic Viramontes (Norco, CA) to snag Riverside's first lead of the game at 7-6.

Both teams went blow-for-blow in the second quarter as there were four lead changes. Ventura grabbed the lead back early in the second quarter with a field goal, but Viramontes snatched the lead right back by leaping over a pile of defenders at the one-yard line for another rushing touchdown.

The Pirates added their first touchdown of the contest on a 30-yard touchdown pass shortly after the Tiger touchdown, but Viramontes continued to push down on the gas pedal and pound his way through the pylons for his third rushing downtown of the game. Ventura added another field goal with under a minute left in the second quarter leading to a 21-19 Tiger advantage at halftime.

The third quarter was a defensive battle with each team trading a mere score. Ventura connected for another long touchdown pass, but Viramontes continued to attack on the ground by slipping into the end zone for another rushing touchdown thus grasping a 28-26 lead.

When the fourth quarter rolled around, the Tiger offense became lethal. Viramontes began a 21-point Riverside outburst with a 45-yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Cam Sutton (Moreno Valley, CA) to extend their lead.

Ventura struck once more via passing touchdown, but freshman wide receiver Tyrone Marshall (Los Angeles, CA) had other plans. Viramontes located Marshall on a short out route to the near sideline. Marshall carted the ball up the sideline after seeing a nice block from fellow freshman wide receiver Tanarious Achan (Lafayette, LA) and followed his back. A Ventura defender attempted to make a play on Marshall, but Marshall read the defender and hurdled him with ease and took off on a foot race. He beat three more defenders up the Riverside en route to the end zone.

Viramontes sealed the deal late in the fourth with his fifth rushing touchdown of the night leading to the win.

Viramontes was named the game's Most Valuable Player (MVP) after rushing for a career-high five touchdowns on 23 attempts for 126 yards. Furthermore, he went 17-for-26 through the air for 332 yards and two touchdowns.

Marshal was named the Tiger's Player of the Game after his incredible hurdling touchdown on a 53 yard pass. Furthermore, he returned six kickoffs for 138 yards.

Achan led the squad in receiving by snagging five catches for 113 yards with a 61-yard reception. Sophomore wide receiver Malik Holcomb (Chicago, IL) followed with four grabs for 65 yards. Sutton had a lone catch for a touchdown.

Freshman linebacker Jash Allen (Portland, OR) was a monster on the defensive end by recording 12 tackles and two sacks for a loss of 15 yards. Freshman linebacker Mitchell Agude (Corona, CA) followed with eight tackles and one and a half sacks.

The Tigers (10-1) will face off against the top-seeded Fullerton College Hornets next Saturday, November 25th in the SCFA Southern California Championship game at Whittier College at 1 p.m.